Fire up that stove – it’s time to cook!

Fall is finally here, bringing with it all the sights and sounds and smells that are so familiar but bring with it a quiet sense of surprise and joy every year.  At least for me.  It is my favorite season, so maybe I am a bit biased. 🙂

The one thing that those around my neck of the woods can count on every year is that when the weather starts to cool, I start to BAKE!  And cook.  I enjoy both.  But more than anything, I love to bake.  Cakes, cookies, breads, muffins, pies…the list could go on.  And I enjoy eating all of those  just as much as I enjoy making them.

Each cook has their own style, their own way of doing things that works for them.  To me, cooking is an art, and food is part of the creative process.  Cooking is to be enjoyed, and if I am in a state where I can’t enjoy it, I don’t do it.

Thankfully, life has slowed down a bit for me lately, and after a pathetic absence from my kitchen the past few months, I find myself enjoying cooking more again.  I’m making my old tried-and-true recipe favorites, and I’m looking for some new faves to add to that collection.

So, I thought I would ask you all: what are your favorite recipe sources?  Cookbooks?  Websites?  Blogs?  Fill my head with inspiration, and let’s cook together!

-Shannon

Current Project: Granny Stripes Blanket

Hello everyone!  Lately I’ve been working on a new crocheted blanket/afghan for either our sofa or bed.  (I haven’t decided yet.  It will probably start on one and end up on the other.)  My pile of acrylic yarn (all at once now: “EWW, acrylic!”) has been piling up over the past couple of years, and though I have come to prefer more natural fibers, I just couldn’t throw out or give away all this perfectly good yarn.  I am of the mindset that acrylic has its place in the universe, and keeping me warm in the winter is now that place!

I’m going incognito as ladylovely over at ravelry, where I found this great pattern.  I know this pattern has been around for ages, but I can’t resist how cute it is or how well it lends itself to the use of multiple colors.  I have been knitting almost exclusively when it comes to yarn crafts and found that I was really missing crochet.  I have been enjoying working on this project.  I’m using several bright, cheery colors that will brighten my day in the middle of February when it’s rainy and dreary and bitter cold.

Are any of you knitters or crocheters?  If you do both, are you preferential to one over the other?  Why?  Please share – I’d love to hear!

Fall Mantle Decor

My poor mantle had somehow managed to get overlooked all summer long until suddenly I found fall staring me in the face – leaves falling, cooler nights, the whole shebang.  I was at Michael’s yesterday, and they were having a GREAT sale, so I decided to give the ol’ girl a face lift.  Tell me – what do you think?

Before…

…and after!

Homemade Granola

Hello all!  Today is a rainy day, and the weather has started to cool down here.  I thought I’d share an easy recipe with you, perfect for cooler weather.

Recently I made homemade granola for the first time…and I must say I am addicted.  The recipe is from one of my favorite blogs and can be found here.

I’m in a particular kick-it-into-fall kind of mood today and opted for an oatmeal cookie inspired variation.  Who doesn’t love a spiced-just-right oatmeal cookie with a glass of cold milk on a fall day?  This is the perfect way to start off the morning for me.

I followed Emma’s recipe to the letter and used:

  • maple syrup
  • chopped and whole pecans, and
  • dried cranberries

in order to use up what I had on hand.  If only you could smell this as it’s baking…(insert drooling noises here).

Next time I make this, I plan to cut the temp back to 325.  The whole pecans got a bit darker than I’d like, so I will probably only use chopped nuts in the future.  I plan to try many more variations – I’m thinking a peanut butter sandwich influenced variation for my PB-lovin’ hubby?  I’d love to hear your ideas – share them with me in the comments section!

This will be a great breakfast for several days to come…if I can keep hubby out of it first – he’s already snacking on it while it cools.  Happy baking!

Inspiration and Faves, Week of 9/9 – 9/15

This morning I noticed that quite a few leaves have started to fall from the crape myrtle in my front yard and I realized the autumn season is right at our door, even here in the South.  Today I thought I’d share some of my current home decor faves for the upcoming fall season.

1. I just love the look of mercury glass, and Pottery Barn’s Champagne Mercury Glass Pumpkins caught my eye, as did the mantle display featuring these beauties alongside a rustic assortment of pumpkins, dried vine, and a variety of charming aged platters in a silver tone to complement the silver of the pumpkins.

2. Kim of ethanollie currently features a cute vintage wicker picnic basket in her Etsy shop.  This would make the perfect basket set for the picnic I have been contemplating for hubby and I this weekend.  The weather here has just been too gorgeous to pass up – I’ve been driving with the windows down and spending as much time as I can outside all week.  Anyone else?  I know I can’t be the only one…

3.  The Traveler side table from Anthropologie… what can I say?  I am a sucker for old trunks – always have been – and this would be just too cute in my living room at the end of my sofa.  Alas, the price tag does not agree with me, but a girl can dream/drool, right?

4.  I must apologize for this next one as well.  It’s definitely out of my price range, but I love to window shop even when I can’t buy.  Pottery Barn’s Clift Glass Table Lamp Base in Espresso looks just charming with the complementary Espresso Burlap Tapered Drum Lamp Shade.  I love the look of burlap, this fall more than ever.  There’s something very rustic and homey about it.

5.  Another rustic beauty, the Happy Halloween Banner from Pottery Barn is sure to charm at your autumn parties this year.  In fact, it’s inspired me to try to make my own burlap version…I’ll update on that later.

6.  Fellow crafters, beware!  I just fell in love with this paper sewing machine from Anthropologie.  Is anyone else trying to figure out how to make this out of old pattern papers?

7.  Last but not least, this rustic barbed wire heart wreath from gazaboo stole my heart too.  There is just something rustic and charming about this piece that makes it appropriate for both city and country life.

Tell me what you think!  Where are you finding inspiration as you prepare your house for fall?

Cheers – Shannon

Happy Stripe Pillow

Hello all!  Today I thought I’d share with you a pattern for a cheerful quilted pillow cover with an envelope back.  It’s a great project to while away an afternoon and a fantastic way to use up any 1 to 1-1/2″ strips you have lying around from past projects.  You can also currently purchase the featured pillow cover in my Etsy shop (http://www.etsy.com/shop/peachesandgingham).

Happy Stripe Pillow

One of my babies had to put her two cents in and I couldn’t resist sharing a pic of her sweet little face. Okay – here we go!

Happy Stripe Pillow

Finished size:  Approximately 16″ x 16″

Use 1/4″ seam allowance throughout, unless otherwise noted.

Materials:

  • 1 to 1-1/2″ wide strips cotton fabric in assorted colors and patterns, approximately 10.5″ long (you may double the length to make enough for two pillows at one time).  I used 12 different strips from two of Moda’s summer collections, each around 22″ long.
  • Approximately 1/2 yard solid white cotton fabric (I used scraps I had lying around, but I imagine 1/2 yard would give you plenty to work with, if you needed to purchase any.)
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Scissors and/or rotary cutter, guide, & cutting mat
  • Pins (I prefer safety pins, but use whatever feels comfortable to you.)
  • Approximately 18″ x 18″ piece batting, whatever fiber and density you like (I used 100% polyester with a traditional loft, which measures about 3/16 of an inch, purchased at my local craft store.)
  • 16 – 18″ pillow form (found inexpensively at most craft/home supply stores)

Project Guide:

  1. For the front, you’ll need to cut the following from the solid white fabric: (1) 2 top strips measuring 4″ x 18″, and (2) 2 side strips measuring 4-1/4″ x 11″.  Go ahead and do that now.
  2. Arrange your fabric strips in the order you like.  I wanted a sort of gradual rainbow effect, so mine are sorted by color and tint.
  3. Place two of your 1-1/2″ strips right sides together and stitch along one long side; press to the darker color.  Repeat with each strip until all are joined.  If you used long strips in order to make two center sections for two separate pillows, use your rotary cutter or scissors to cut the piece in half now, somewhere close to the 10-1/2″ mark.  Using your rotary cutter or scissors, square up the corners and even out the edges along the rough outside of the newly created center block.
  4. Place one of your 4-1/4″ x 11″ white fabric strips together with the center block, right sides facing, and stitch together along the 11″ side;  press to the darker color.  Repeat with the second strip on the opposite end of the block.  Using your rotary cutter or scissors, square up anything that is uneven.
  5. Place one of your 4″ x 18″ white fabric strips together with the center block, right sides facing, and stitch together along the 18″ side; press to the darker color.  Repeat with the second strip on the opposite end of the block.  Again, using your rotary cutter or scissors, square up anything that is uneven.  You’re getting there – the top piecing is finished!
  6. Place your top piece right side up on top of the piece of batting.  Pin in place so it doesn’t move around too much while you’re quilting the top.  Move to your machine and quilt as desired.  I simply stitched horizontal lines on mine to emphasize the stripes – and for level of ease! – but it would be beautiful stitched with a more free-form design as well.  If you desire to stitch horizontal lines as I did, here’s what I did:  (1) Use a ruler to line up the edges between each strip of fabric in the center block (i.e., the ditch), and make small marks at the ends of your fabric so you know where to start and where to leave off quilting.  No worries – the marks will be hidden in the hem after you’re all done!  (2)  Simply start at each mark and guide the fabric toward each ditch, and stitch along the ditch for each piece.  The lines along the top and bottom are a little trickier – you just have to eyeball it, or else mark your fabric.  I didn’t worry too much about making mine look even – I think a little variation gives it character.
  7. Once you’ve finished quilting the top, you’re ready to make the back pieces.  For the back pieces, take the final measurements of your finished top piece.  The width measurement for the back piece will be the same as the width of the top piece.  For the height of the back piece, add 3 inches to the measurement of the height of the top piece and round up to the nearest inch (for example, 19.5 would round up to 20″).  Cut one piece of solid white fabric with these measurements, halve the height measurement of the back piece, and make your cut there (you basically just cut the back piece in half).  So, using the above numbers, each back piece would measure the width of your front by 10″ height (mine measured 17.5″ x 10″).
  8. On one long end of each back piece, fold a hem of 1/4″ and press into place.  Fold over again and press to create an enclosed hem.  Stitch into place.  Repeat with second piece; press both.
  9. Trim the batting on your top piece to the size of the top.  Pin the two back pieces to the top piece, right sides facing and with the envelope seamed parts overlapping in the middle.  Stitch all the way around with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Make sure to back stitch a few times over the envelope opening on each side to reinforce it.  I usually back stitch at the corners too, just to have a little extra backup.
  10. Trim your corners if needed to help them lay right – but be careful not to cut your stitches!  Remove the pins and turn the cover back to its right side showing.  Press the outside, insert your pillow and voila!  You’re done!  Now wasn’t that fun?  Thanks for sewing with me!

Shannon

Hello hello!

Hi all!  I’ve been plotting and planning my careful entry to the blogosphere this past month, only to discover that I CAN’T WAIT!!!  My goal for peaches+gingham is to share my life with the world – my passions, my pursuits (as my favorite author and storyteller, Jane Austen, would say) and inspire others around me to live their best life possible where it all begins – at home.  Ask anybody who knows me and they will tell you I am a homebody through and through.  I enjoy travelling but usually find I cannot wait to be home again, and I thoroughly enjoy trying to make my home as welcoming and cozy as possible.  It’s a constant work in progress, and I enjoy every minute of it.

I’m starting this blog as a way to share and connect with others, like-minded or not, and as a way to inspire and be inspired. I find much of my inspiration on the net and have become a pretty avid reader of a couple of home decor/inspiration blogs that I particularly enjoy.  You’ll find that I am by no means a decor snob.  I’ve always liked things to look nice without spending a fortune, and I’ll be sharing fun home and craft projects and recipes that I have used to beautify my home without spending an arm and a leg.  I believe every person should feel comfortable in their own space, whatever that may mean for that person.  For some, it is country cottage.  For others, it is minimalist and modern.  For some (like my neat-freak self) it means a clutter-free home (for me, at least, clutter you can’t see; if it’s tucked away in the junk drawer out of sight, I can breathe); for others, if it’s not messy, it’s not cozy!  I encourage you to embrace the person you are, not just in your day-to-day dealings with the world, but in your home too.  As you do, you’ll find your home is a space to relax and just be you.

I look forward to journeying on together – check back often for projects, inspirations, and just plain ol’ good times and fun!  Let me know what inspires you in the comments below, whether in your decorating or in your life in general.  I can’t wait to hear your responses.  Happy decorating!